WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS HERE
After 10 years, yet somehow only five seasons, the Venture Brothers have taken everything they’ve built up to this point and said “So what?”. They have quite literally razed the earth behind them, re-establishing the Venture world in a move it’s safe to say no-one saw coming. As always I find myself wishing the show had more time to run loose in the wild world Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer have built, but it’s a minute problem when there are so many golden moments already packed into the episode.
The latest Venture Bros special is an episode intended to tie up existing story lines while simultaneously opening vast new story paths for the characters. It succeeds on both fronts to a ridiculous degree, and you can see how this special was meant to be a season five finale. Much like “Operation P.R.O.M”, “All That and Gargantua-2″ could easily also have worked as a series finale, and in a way both end the series as we knew it up to that point. Major characters leap forward in their growth, or are suddenly bumped off. The thing that has always made the Venture Brothers such an enchanting show has been its commitment to change as both inevitable and uncontrollable, never scared of breaking with the past. As in life, events move forward in a whirlwind of confusion and coincidence that few of its characters ever seem aware of.
This particularly whirlwind begins with Jonas Jr. opening the Gargantua-2 space station to the public as the world’s first space casino/resort/8th wonder of the world. Of course, pretty much everyone shows up whether they’ve been invited or not, and things go straight to hell from there. The Revenge Society pops in looking for a classic heist, the Monarch & 21 steal a Venture ship to pursue Phantom Limb into space, and the OSI sneaks in to prevent exactly these sorts of villainous shenanigans. And that’s scratching the surface. The plot would take too much time to recap here, so I’ll stick to discussing key moments.
Some truly touching moments in the episode as well: Phantom Limb appears to have reformed, dedicating himself to the guild in the wake of Killinger’s training. Dean and Doc share a bonding moment reminiscent of their prog-rock adventure while fixing the meteor shield for Gargantua-2. I often feel bad about Hank’s lack of a relationship with Doc, but he’s always been closer to Brock, his father figure.Doc and Jonas finally bury the hatchet and their own egos, coming to terms as brothers in their last moments together and finally acting like the Venture Brothers they could’ve been. Most touching of all, though, is the Monarch and Dr-Mrs.The-Monarch’s working their way back to one another once the Sovereign’s plan to destroy the guild (and the Investors in the process) kick into gear. Their love, though often eccentric, is one of the most genuine and open relationships on the show. Indeed I can’t picture either of them with anyone else.
Some interesting potential plot-lines get hinted at. For the first time, Phantom Limb seems genuinely concerned with the guild’s survival, not just his place in the organization. Seeing the Sovereign’s fall from grace casts a new light on Limb’s behaviour up to this point: what before seemed like narcissism due to his family connection to the guild, has transformed into a show of loyalty to a organization being undermined by a relentlessly serving shape-shifter with a demonic pact. Limb’s attempts to remove the Sovereign might’ve saved everyone a lot of trouble if he had been successful. Though Killinger’s training, and time spent out in the cold, has had a much-needed humbling effect on Phantom Limb.
Billy Quizboy’s mother is seen showing off some moves, dance-fighting her way through the main casino hall (though falling short of any specific big reveals). I believe she may have appeared unnamed in a fifth season flashback, but her potential history of ass-kicking and crime-fighting warrants further investigation.
Even the Monarch’s home-invasion at the Venture compound carries hints of the mysterious, long-standing question of the connection between Doc and Monarch. Is he just a mastermind who knows the mind of his arch-nemesis this well, or is there something deeper? I’ve often wondered if the Monarch might be a long-lost Venture himself, considering his tragic childhood and that oh-so-tantalizing photo of his parents with Jonas Sr. The Venture Brothers parcels out clues in the unlikeliest of places, stoking the fires of fan speculation like this.
The plotting in this episode is labyrinth, and shows us just how deep a mythology the show runners have managed to create. It helps that the entire chain of events is (heavily) hinted as the result of Killinger’s direct intervention, but it’s insane how much these guys are able to destroy without even beginning to shatter the foundations of their fictional universe. The writing continues to improve as the show matures, based on a trust that their loyal fan base will follow them down whatever avenue they choose to explore (we will). It’s one of the most uniquely voiced shows on television today, a constantly refreshing fan favourite.
A lot of the time on this show discusses coping with change, with accepting life as it comes and working to make the best of increasingly bad situations that we know will only get worse. Both characters and audience are continually adapting to an uncertain, somewhat crazy world. Enemies are now allies again, people who deserved to live have died, people who you never thought would survive have prospered. But however the Venture Brothers changes under us, it never feels like a step in the wrong direction.
So where exactly does this all leave us? Let’s take a look.
- The Sovereign is dead. The Guild lives, thanks to Killinger’s intervention, but only only four of the original council of thirteen have survived. Three of the most competent or knowledgeable members (Z, Dr.MtM, and Red Mantle) survive, as well as Phage by some miracle. A new council is to be formed in their new meteor space-base, but while the Revenge Society will likely be involved it is certain that the Monarch will not. Killinger was very clear about that.
- Dr. Impossible/Incorrigible may give up on his evil lifestyle as soon as it’s begun, thanks to the kindness of his ex-wife during the evacuation.
- Dr. Zin and Red Mantle have gone over to the OSI, and received pardons in exchange for providing key information on the Sovereign.
- Henchman Zero is dead, murdered by henchman murder machine Brock Sampson in a moment of hubris.
- Jonah Jr. and Hulk-Traister appear to have blown up along with Gargantua-2.
- Sally Impossible/Venture inherits Spider Skull Island.
- Killinger kills the Investors (with lightsabers!). The investors were Killinger’s brothers, apparently. And based on one’s comment on not entering places they’re not invited, possibly vampires to boot.
- The Soveriegn is revealed to not be David Bowie. Real Bowie is out there somewhere, thank god.
- Rusty just inherited the Venture fortune and empire that JJ has rebuilt since he escaped Doc’s body. The Venture compound burns to the ground (save for the monument to Jonas Sr/Jr), so it looks like the Venture’s are moving to New York!
Here’s hoping for a brilliant season six, and may it come sooner than the last season did.
“Where’s David Bowie?”
“He’s not David Bowie.”
“Great, all my signed albums just became worthless.”
“Hank runs Barter Town.”
- “[I’m] just some bloke who wanted to be anyone but himself.”
- “I would like twenty Hank Bucks of plastic gambling money, please.”
POST SCRIPT: Some of you may have missed the epilogue. Adult Swim has done us the favour of posting this soon-to-be classic mash-up of sea-shanty accordion with The Crash Test Dummies right here.